Google Pixel vs iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy: Which Phone to Buy?

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iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones have dominated the market for the last decade. However, it seems that Google has raised its game and the latest Pixel phones are some of the best Android devices we’ve ever seen.

However, it really depends on what you need, right? What do you use your phone for? Taking photos, browsing Instagram, gaming, and video editing — these are just some of the things you could be doing. Since each of us has different demands from our devices, we have to find a way to compare them in an objective manner. Let’s begin…

Pricing

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By now, we all know that iPhones are the most extravagant smartphones on the market. You can get a “cheap” one for about $200 but that’s just an iPhone 6 which was released way back in 2015 and can only run up to iOS 12. Getting a newer model will be much more expensive with the latest phones surpassing the $1000 mark.

Samsung, on the other hand, has the Galaxy A line of newly released phones that are much more affordable and you can get one that’s worth it for as low as $100. The mid-range and flagship models are slightly cheaper than iPhones with the latter costing about the same(maybe about $200 less depending on the phone).

If you’re looking for something more affordable, Google Pixels are on average the cheapest option compared to Apple phones. They cost about 20% less in the US and the price difference is even bigger in some countries like Greece where an iPhone can cost double the price. In general, high-end models cost about $900 and they have never, historically speaking, breached the $1000.

Now, if we compare Pixel phones with Samsung Galaxy, the pricing is much closer. The only difference is that Google doesn’t have an entry-level series. Therefore, just like with iPhones, you’ll have to purchase an older model(e.g. Pixel 2 XL from 2017) if you want something more inexpensive.

Performance

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Image by SakiTech
Processor

Each brand utilizes its own processor chipsets and although Apple gets theirs from Samsung and TSMC(Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), the performance of an iPhone compared to everything else is always superior(with some exceptions of 5G).

Taking a look at the benchmark test which was made by SakiTech’s YouTube channel, we can see how the iPhone gets CPU scores on Geekbench that are close to double the performance of Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel counterparts. There is no question that in terms of processing performance, iPhones have no competition at the moment.

When comparing the Samsung and Pixel phones that were released after 2020, things get much more interesting with the latter having a superior average Multi-Core performance while still losing by a small margin in Single-Core.

In general, both brands are very close in terms of CPU performance but that’s only true in the last few years because Google significantly improved its devices so it’s caught up with what Samsung is providing to its user base.

Graphics
3DMark graphics performance for Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy.
Image by SakiTech

In the graphics benchmark using 3DMark, once again iPhones outperform Pixel and Samsung devices by about 35% depending on the models you compare. The average frame rates are also significantly higher so you can expect a much smoother experience while gaming.

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At the moment, Pixel phones have a stronger graphics chip compared to Samsung so they outperform them in that aspect.

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Image by SakiTech

In addition, the temperatures of Pixel phones are commonly lower than those of Samsung but only if you don’t run a game for too long.

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Image by SakiTech

When you perform the Extreme Stress Test in 3DMark or any other benchmark software, you’ll soon realize that both Samsung Galaxy and Pixels over time end up at about the same power level.

You will be able to see this even in real time during gaming. The Pixel starts the game with more FPS compared to Samsung but after a while, it drops performance by a lot. Overall, when it comes to gaming, the higher performance and lower temperature make Pixels a clear winner against Samsung.

Camera Quality

Each manufacturer has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to camera quality, with some brands excelling in particular areas where others fall short. Versus, a YouTube channel I’ve been watching for the past year, released a video a few days ago where he compared the image quality of the iPhone 14 Pro against the Pixel 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

I am going to use that as a reference since most of the differences between the brands apply to their other cheaper phones too. You can find more information about specific phone comparisons on their website too.

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Image(1) by Versus

Looking at the image(1) above which is shot using the standard photo mode, it’s noticeable how Google Pixel offers lower contrast and saturation compared to the other two. Although that might seem like a negative thing, the fact that the shot looks flat is better at preserving the detail in the shadows and highlight areas if you plan on doing some photo editing.

On the other hand, Samsung Galaxy cameras offer the most vibrant and warm colors with the most contrast while Apple iPhones are generally somewhere in the middle. Overall, the image sharpness is almost the same for all 3 brands although iPhones, as you will see throughout this guide, tend to offer more consistency. At the end of the day, this is up to your personal preference.

Selfie Camera
Front Camera image comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy

Image(2) by Versus

Due to the lack of autofocus, until the iPhone 14 was recently released, Apple’s front cameras weren’t its strongest point. iPhone selfie cameras typically have better sharpness than Samsung in most scenarios with Pixel getting 3rd place in that category with slightly lower detail.

The colors of all three manufacturers are pretty similar, however, if an iPhone 14 or later is out of the question due to its exorbitant cost, a Samsung Galaxy phone is the better alternative if you want to avoid manual focusing every time you take a selfie.

Portrait Mode
Portrait mode image comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy
Image(3) by Versus

The portrait mode of Google Pixel phones, with the exception of Pixel 7, is awful. It comes nowhere near the level of Apple and Samsung. The background blur doesn’t look as natural and the AI struggles to accurately find the edges of the main subject. Hopefully, there are significant improvements in the 7 series but the overall quality is still inferior.

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Now, if we were to compare the iPhone and Samsung portrait mode, then it comes down to your preference as they are almost identical in visual quality and sharpness and they just differ in color and contrast. As usual, the iPhone lenses are brighter, with less color saturation, vibrance, and contrast.

Macro Mode
Macro mode image comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy
Image(4) by Versus

When it comes to Macro photography, most brands except for Apple and Samsung do not get it right and Google before 2022 didn’t even have a dedicated Macro mode in their phones. However, the Pixel 7 Pro now has one of the best Macro modes on the market and it actually outperforms Apple and Samsung.

Image(4) is a clear demonstration of the superior detail, sharpness, and dynamic range that it can offer. Regardless, this phone is the flagship that costs about $900 so if you can’t buy that, then an older iPhone model will give you the best Macro Mode.

Night Mode
Night mode image comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy
Image(5) by Irina Tech

Samsung Galaxy phones are known for their night mode(also known as Nightography in S22), but iPhones and Pixels are not bad either. In wide-angle pictures where you capture a whole city during the night, all 3 brands can produce equally good-looking results. So, you can choose either of them depending on your budget.

Night mode image comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy
Image(6) by Versus

However, in very harsh light conditions, iPhones tend to have lower sharpness than Pixel phones while the higher contrast of Samsung can make them lose the majority of the details in the shadows and highlights of the image.

Therefore, if you are interested in night photography, buying a Google Pixel will give you the most consistent results. For night videography, on the other hand, things are not the same. (More on that in the video quality section.)

Zoom-Telephoto
Telephoto lens image comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy

Image(7) by Versus

If you want to take long-distance photos by zooming, the telephoto lenses that Samsung uses in their phones are some of the best. Up until the 10x zoom, iPhones and Pixels can produce decent results and will keep up with Galaxy phones but after that, in the 30x, 50x, and even 100x zoom, Samsung is the clear winner with no competition.

Video Quality

Video quality comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy
Image(8) by Versus

The video quality of Apple and Samsung phones is fairly similar in the mid and high-end markets. However, the software of Apple is slightly superior and more consistent and thus the video appears to have better sharpness without any pixelation.

On the other hand, Pixels are not known for their video capabilities with some exceptions. Google did some improvements to the Pixel 6 to make it more usable for videography and this year the Pixel 7 is approaching the quality that the iPhone can offer.

In terms of the general image quality, Google Pixel cameras are generally cooler, have less contrast, and lack saturation, iPhones give you a more natural look while Galaxy phones have high contrast and a much warmer look.

Additionally, iPhones have the most reliable video stabilization compared to Samsung. Unfortunately, the only Google phones with a great stabilizer are those of the Pixel 7 series. Consequently, I wouldn’t advise you to use a Google Pixel phone for extreme sports unless it’s the Pixel 7 Pro.

Cinematic Mode
Cinematic mode comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy
Image(9) by Versus

Once again, Apple’s software is a key differentiator between the quality of iPhones’ cinematic mode and that of its rivals. Samsung phones are slightly worse in that area while Google Pixels offer some of the worst results we have ever seen.

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Google would be better off not including a cinematic mode whatsoever rather than giving us this result. It looks like they have added the cheapest linear blur in the background while the AI struggles big time to even find the edges of the subject that’s supposed to be in focus.

Night Videography
Night ideo mode comparison of Google Pixel, iPhone, and Samsung Galaxy
Image(10) by Irina Tech

Although the Night Mode on Google Pixels is outstanding, the same cannot be said of the night video mode, since the image you receive has a lot of noise and loses so much clarity when compared to iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. iPhones produce an overall better and less noisy result.

Additionally, Samsung phones tend to oversaturate the colors during the night which is something that I personally dislike.

Software – Security

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On the software side, Pixel and Galaxy phones are all pretty similar. They run on Google’s Android operating system and they have access to the same apps. On the other hand, Apple uses iOS which is much more strict when it comes to apps but also has the benefit of higher security.

On Android, it’s advised to use an anti-virus application to better protect your device while on iOS this is not needed. Additionally, iPhones get on average 5-6 years of software updates whereas the Samsung and Google Pixel phones get about 4-5 years. For Pixel 6 and later models, Google actually gives at least 5 years of updates.

If you are wondering why iPhones have less RAM than android devices, take a look at this article!

Which brand should you buy?

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Buy iPhones if…

You want a phone that will provide you with consistency and high security without sacrificing anything in terms of performance and camera quality. However, you’ll have to take into account the generally higher price tag that comes with Apple products.

Buy Samsung Galaxy phones if…

You want to be flexible with pricing while still getting a high-quality device. Additionally, Samsung phones are great if you are a telephoto and night photography enthusiast who likes the vibrant colors and high contrast that comes with these phones’ lenses.

Buy Google Pixel phones if…

You want a value-for-money device that doesn’t lack any features and performance compared to the much more expensive competitors. Their strong graphics chips make them a great option for gaming and their cameras are not that far behind in terms of quality with some exceptions when it comes to portrait mode and video.

Final Thoughts

Each phone brand has its own strengths and weaknesses, so the choice ultimately comes down to what’s most important to you and how much you’re willing to spend. Most people are interested in cameras these days so look carefully as this is the area where these 3 brands differ the most.

Needless to say that if you want a business phone with high security, you’ll have to go with an iPhone anyway. If you have further questions, let me know in the comments below.

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